As well as contributing to the Department’s series of public seminars, we organise a regular seminar series focused on issues in Applied Linguistics. These seminars are an opportunity for staff and students to share their findings as well as discuss work in progress.

First language mediated teaching strategies for EAL learners: a systematic review and exploratory randomised trial

31 October 2017 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room G/H

Speaker: Hamish Chalmers, Oxford Brookes University

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Stability and change in developmental language disorders (Public Seminar)

06 November 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room G/H

Speaker: Professor Courtenay Norbury, University College London

Convener: Professor Victoria Murphy, Applied Linguistics Research Group

In this lecture I will present data from the Surrey Communication and Language in Education Study (SCALES), a population study of language development and disorder from school entry. From an initial population of 7267 children screened at the end of reception year, a stratified subsample (n = 529) received comprehensive assessment of language (vocabulary, grammar and narrative), non-verbal ability, and behavioral difficulties at 5-6 years of age (Year 1) and 95% of the sample (n = 499) were assessed again at ages 7-8 (Year 3). Language growth was measured using both raw and standard scores in children with typical development, children with developmental language disorder (DLD), and children with language disorder associated with other clinical conditions and/or intellectual disability.

Across the first three years of school there was strong individual stability of language scores (estimated ICC = .95). Linear mixed effects models highlighted steady growth in language (raw scores), and parallel rates of growth across all three groups. There was little evidence, however, that children with language disorders were narrowing the gap with peers (z-scores). Adjusted models indicated that while non-verbal ability, socio-economic status and behavioural skills predicted initial language score (intercept), none influenced rate of language growth (slope).

From school entry, rate of language growth was remarkably similar in three groups of children with diverse language and cognitive profiles. Importantly though, children with multiple developmental challenges were not falling further behind. These findings raise important questions about the timing and goals of specialist and targeted intervention programmes.

Courtenay Norbury is Professor of Developmental Disorders of Language and Communication at Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London. She is the Director of the Literacy, Language and Communication (LiLaC) Lab and is a qualified speech-language therapist. She obtained her PhD in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, working with Professor Dorothy Bishop on the overlapping language profiles that characterise autism spectrum disorder and ‘specific’ language impairment. Professor Norbury’s current research focuses on language disorders in a range of neurodevelopmental conditions and how language interacts with other aspects of development. She is also one of the joint editors of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and a founding member of the Raising Awareness of Developmental Language Disorder campaign (